The philosophy of love marriage – Kurunthokai 115


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The blog has been recently updated after one my friends Mr.Anand Raman contribute few pictures he took while he had a Nilgiri trip. The Phtos are very invaluable and would help you to understand the poem better. Incidentally wrote this blog lat year on Pongal and updating it on a Pongal day year later.

Happy Pongal to all the readers. I was so guilty of not writing for so long that I have decided to write on this day special to Tamilians all around the world. Few months ago I came across this poem in a book ‘Sips from the Sangam cup’. This song really shows the wisdom of the Tamil people 2000 years ago. This poem answers on basic doubt most youngsters have these days. So without giving much more buildup like Tamil action heroes I will proceed to the poem.
115. குறிஞ்சி
பெரு நன்று ஆற்றின், பேணாரும் உளரே?
ஒரு நன்று உடையள் ஆயினும், புரி மாண்டு,
புலவி தீர அளிமதி-இலை கவர்பு,
ஆடு அமை ஒழுகிய தண் நறுஞ் சாரல்,
மென்நடை மரையா துஞ்சும்
நன் மலை நாட!-நின் அலது இலளே.
உடன்போக்கு ஒருப்படுத்து மீளும் தோழி தலைமகற்குக் கூறியது. – கபிலர்
115. kuRijci
peru n’anRu ARRin, pENArum uLarE?
oru n’anRu uTaiyaL Ayinum, puri mANTu,
pulavi tIra aLimati-ilai kavarpu,
ATu amai ozukiya taN n’aRuj cAral,
menn’aTai maraiyA tujcum
n’an malai n’ATa!-n’in alatu ilaLE.
uTanpOkku oruppaTuttu mILum tOzi talaimakaRkuk kURiyatu. – kapilar

Kurunthokai 115
When a person does a great good,
would there be any one who wouldn’t praise it?
Though she has little goodness ,
let your desire for her attain greatness,
put an end to your love quarrel
and protect her esteem.
You are the resident of the mountain,
where wild cows with its slow steps
eat leaves from other trees
and sleep in the slopes of the mountain
under the cool excellent shade
spread out by the swaying mature bamboos.
She doesn’t have anyone other than you!

What her friend said to the Hero after urging him to elope with her in time.
Poet: Kapilar
Translated by me.



Thalivan and Thalaivi have met , fallen in love and had natural sexual union . The people from girls side doubt girls action, so they keep her guarded. Thalaivan and Thalaivi can no more bare the feeling of being separated , hence the Panki(Thalaivi’s friend ) arranges their elopement and utters the following advice to the Thalaivan before he leaves with the Thalaivi.

Meaning :

The outer layer:

Panki tells Thalaivan that the girl is young and has only few good habits with her, so it was the duty of him to take care of her by always loving her and stop having any fights and sulking with her. She reminds him that Thalaivi now has no one to support her except Thalaivan as she is running away from her family and she no more has a family of her own.


Thalaivan come from a hill country where

மரையா marai-y-ā

Wild cow. See கவயம்¹. மரையா மரல்கவர (கலித். 6).

கவயம்¹ kavayam

, n. < gavaya. Bison, wild cow, Bos gaurus; காட்டுப்பசு. (திவா.)

File:Indian Bison.jpg
Wild cows steal leaves from the trees and eat them . When they get tired they sleep in the mountain slope under the shadow of the well-grown bamboo trees.
Reading this line would make readers wonder what is the connection between a wild cow sleeping under bamboo trees and hero eloping with heroine ? here is the answer:
The wild cows love to eat leaves from the bamboo trees when  the tree was tender and young.
The wild cows graze the trees and shrubs in their reach. When the bamboo tree is tender its leaves are in level where the cows can reach and eat them.
But as the bamboo trees became mature and grew big in size, it had no leaves which are within the reach of the wild cows. Hence the wild cows eat leaves from other trees but since the bamboo trees was once provider of the food they loved the most, the cows out of gratitude would go and sleep under the shade of the bamboo trees.
Similarly the Thalaivi now young and in prime of her youth would have the beauty and can offer sexual pleasure that the Thalaivan needs like the bamboo offering the leaves to the cows. But as age increases she would lose her physical beauty and vitality of her youth. At that time Thalaivan shouldn’t desert her , instead like the cows which sit under shade of the bamboo tree out of gratitude and indebtedness, Thalivan should think of the sacrifices and offerings the Thalaivi has given to Thalaivan so that he can attain the pleasure he desired in his youth. Thalaivi has sacrified her whole family just to be with Thalaivan . Thalaivan should remember this and stop all love quarrels with Thalaivi and keep her happy by always loving her. The poet has employed this line “When a person does a great good,would there be any one who wouldn’t praise it?” to say that when she is young and beautiful you will treat her very nicely, but it takes a real man to show the same love when she loses her physical beauty.
Word play:
There is actually two opinions on this imagery. U.V.Swaminathan Iyer gives the explanation I have given above, but Shanmugam Pillay and David Ludden contend that the leaves are of Bamboo leaves and not from other trees.
This confusion is due to interpretation of this word கவர்பு
Swaminathan Iyer takes the following meaning,
கவர்பு kavarpu

, n. < கவர்²-. Differing; வேறு படுகை. கவர்பு முண்டோ கற்றோய் (ஞானா. 66, 13).

Whereas Shanmugam Pillay and David Ludden take the following meaning,

கவர்¹-தல் kavar-, 4 v. tr. [K. M. kavar.] 1. To seize, grasp, catch, capture, take by force, steal; அகப்படுத்துதல். மூங்கிற் கவர்கிளை போல (பதிற்றுப். 84, 12). 2. To rob, plunder, pillage; கொள்ளையிடுதல். வீடறக் கவர்ந்த வினைமொ ழிந்தன்று (பு. வெ. 3, 15, கொளு). 3. To get control of, charm, captivate; வசப்படுத்துதல். உள்ளங்கவர் கள்வன் (தேவா. 61, 1). 4. To desire; விரும்புதல். (திவா.) 5. To receive; பெற்றுக் கொள்ளுதல். வறியோர்கவர . . . எறிந்து (தஞ்சைவா. 26). 6. To experience, enjoy; நுகர்தல். கனி யிருப்பக் காய்கவர்ந் தற்று (குறள், 100). 7. To have sexual connection with; முயங்குதல். கவர் கணைச் சாமனார் தம்முன் (கலித். 94, 33). 8. To churn, reduce by trituration or attrition; கடை தல். (திவா.) 9. To call, summon; அழைத்தல். கானக்கோழிக் கவர்குரற் சேவல் (மலைபடு. 510).

So if we go by Shanmugam Pillay and David Ludden would the meaning of the poem change? actually not!

The meaning now would be the wild cows stole the leaves from bamboo and settled below the bamboo tree in its shadow.

Now refer to meaning 6,7 of the word கவர்¹-தல். The word means steal and also means enjoy experience – to have sexual connection. Now this way it means Thalaivan has had sexual union with Thalaivi and hence he should always be under her shade and not stray away as she gets old.


Either way the philosophy of love marriage is :

Beauty and sexual pleasure which satisfies your physical needs only last for while but for the rest of your life you have be grateful to your wife and keep her happy by showing her unconditional love for what she has given you.

Hence you can infer all love starts with attraction and physical beauty, but it should move past the lust and remain life long as pure affection!

ஒரு பெரிய நன்மையை செய்தல் , பாராட்டாதவர்கள்   யாரும்  உண்டோ ?

நீ வாழும் மலை பகுதியில் , காட்டுப்பசுக்கள் பல மரத்தில் உள்ள இலையை உண்டு விட்டு உயர்ந்து வளர்ந்த மூங்கிலின் நிழல் படியும் மலைச் சரிவில் உறங்கும் .
அப்பசுக்கள் ஒரு காலத்தில் விரும்பி உண்ட இலைகளை கொடுத்தவை அந்த மூங்கில் மரங்கள் , தற்போது வளர்ந்த விட்ட நிலையில் பசுக்களுக்கு எட்டாத உயரத்தில் இலைகள் இருந்தாலும் அந்த பசுக்கள் அந்த மூங்கில் மரத்திற்கு நன்றி செலுத்தும் மன உணர்வுடன் அந்த மூங்கில் மரத்தின் கீழ் படுத்து உறங்கும் .
அதே போல் உன் மனைவியாகப் போகும் இவள் இளையவள் , சில நல்ல குணங்கள் மட்டுமே கொண்டவள் .
இந்த இளமை பருவத்தில் அழகும் , உன் ஆசைகளை பூர்த்தி செய்யும் குணமும் இருக்கும் . அனால் வயதாகிய பின்னர் அவள் அழகையும் , இளமையையும் இழந்து விடுவாள். அன்று அவள் உன் மோகத்துக்கு விருந்தாக இருக்க முடியாது , அப்படி பட்ட காலத்திலும் அவள் உன் மேல் கொண்ட காதலை எண்ணி , ஊடல்களை விட்டு , அளவில்லா அன்பைப் பொழிந்து அவளை போற்றிப் பாதுகாப்பாயாக!
அவளுக்கு உன்னைவிட்டல வேறு யாரும் இல்லை ! அவள் குடும்பத்தை உதறிவிட்டு உன்னுடன் இப்பொழுது புறப்பட்டு விட்டால் !


Sips from Sangam Cup by A.V.Subramanian

Kurunthokai – translation by Shanmugam Pillay and David Ludden

Kurunthokai urai by U.V.Swaminathan Iyer

Tamil Lexicon

Kalithokai – Translation – Dr.V.Murugan

401 Kathal Kavithaikal by  Sujatha


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Save me from my love sickness – Narrinai 63

I came across this beautiful poem. When I was reading the commentary I understood the brilliant structure of this poem. So put in some effort to give the essence of the poem with a neat word to word translation.

63. நெய்தல்
உரவுக் கடல் உழந்த பெரு வலைப்பரதவர்
மிகு மீன் உணக்கிய புது மணல் ஆங்கண்,
கல்லென் சேரிப் புலவற் புன்னை
விழவு நாறு விளங்கு இணர் அவிழ்ந்து உடன் கமழும்
அழுங்கல் ஊரோ அறன் இன்று; அதனால்,
அறன் இல் அன்னை அருங் கடிப் படுப்ப,
பசலை ஆகி விளிவதுகொல்லோ-
புள் உற ஒசிந்த பூ மயங்கு அள்ளல்
கழிச் சுரம் நிவக்கும் இருஞ் சிறை இவுளி
திரை தரு புணரியின் கழூஉம்
மலி திரைச் சேர்ப்பனொடு அமைந்த நம் தொடர்பே?

அலர் அச்சத்தால்தோழி சிறைப்புறமாகச் செறிப்பு அறிவுறீஇயது.-உலோச்சனார்

What her girl friend said,
the lover within earshot,behind a fence

On the new sand
where fishermen,
their big nets
ripped apart by an angry sea,
dry their great hauls of fish
in a humming neighborhood
of meat smells,
a laurel tree blossoms
all at once in bright clusters
fragrant as a festival,
but this unfair town
is noisy with gossip.
And what with an unfair Mother too
keep strict watch over us,
will our love just perish here
in sallow patches,
this love for our man
of the seashore
where petals
loosened by the traffic of birds
mix with the mud of the backwaters,
where the big-maned chariot horses galloping there
are washed clean
by the waves of the sea?

Translated by A.K.Ramanujan


Thalaivan and Thalaivi have met each other , fallen in love. The have made secret night meetings(most probably made love). Then the girl is struck by love sickness. The mother of the girl notices it and keeps her in a house arrest(gossips are . This makes it difficult for the Thalaivan to meet Thalaivi.  Thalaivi here urges the Thalaivan who is hiding behind trees to be bold and come forward and marry her .

To understand the structure of the poem , I felt that it is necessary to understand the whole poem line by line. So I have broken my head for a week(surely an exaggeration) and given here a word by word translation

1.உரவுக் -கடல்- உழந்த- பெரு -வலைப்பரதவர்
In constant motion-sea-(caused)suffer-(to the)big-net-(using)parathavar(resident of mullai tract )

2.மிகு -மீன் -உணக்கிய -புது -மணல் -ஆங்கண்,
huge quantity(of) – fish-(being)dried-(in)new- sands – there(that place),

3.கல்லென் சேரிப் புலவற் புன்னை
sound of excitement-(in the)coastal village- (with) smell of fish -(where) punnai tree

4.விழவு நாறு விளங்கு இணர் அவிழ்ந்து உடன் கமழும்
(with)festival(like)-fragrance- renowned-cluster of flowers- opens(blossoms)- emits fragrance

5.அழுங்கல் ஊரோ அறன் இன்று; அதனால்,
loud noisy – village – (which is)virtue – no (virtue less);that’s why,

6.அறன் இல் அன்னை அருங் கடிப் படுப்ப,
virtue-less-mother(‘s)-(has set)fear(ful)-trap

7.பசலை ஆகி விளிவதுகொல்லோ
paleness(love sickness)-become-extinct-will it (would the love(of chieftain of the sea) get extinct in love sickness)

8.புள் உற ஒசிந்த பூ மயங்கு அள்ளல்
birds-with force(sit and)-bend (the branches)under weight-flower-(is)tossed-(into)mud(dy)

9.கழிச் சுரம் நிவக்கும் இருஞ் சிறை இவுளி
marsh/backwater-salt (salty backwater)-remain-(on)tight bond- horse (muddy marsh on horse  bound to the chariot)

10.திரை தரு புணரியின் கழூஉம்
waves-cause(by)-sea-cleanse(mud on the horse) by wash

11.மலி திரைச் சேர்ப்பனொடு அமைந்த நம் தொடர்பே?
abundance-sea-chieftain of the sea-happened-our -relationship(love).(should come as continuation of the line with paleness)

Now check the first line,

The sea which is in constant motion causes big suffering to the Parathavars who use big fishing nets.

Emotion of the line: Suffering

Now the second line,

Huge quantity of fishes dried in the new sands of their village

Emotion of the line : Happiness – though they suffered in the sea , their hard work is payed off with huge quantity of the catch they have brought home. A enduring a suffering has resulted in great pleasure.

Third line,

The village buzzing with excitement is filled with smell of the fish

Smell: Stinking fish smell

Fourth Line,

Festival like fragrance emitted by the blossomed clusters of the punnai flowers

Smell: Fragrance – The stinking smell of the fish is offset by the festival like fragrance of the punnai flowers.

Sultan Champa


Now lets jump to line 9,

The muddy backwater stays on the horse bound to the chariot

Appearance: Dirtiness – horse with mud all over it.

Line 10,

is washed  away by the waves caused by the sea

Appearance: Cleanliness. The mud in the body of the horse while walking in the muddy swarms is cleansed by the waves of the sea.

Now lets come to other part,

Line 5,

The virtue less village is noisy with gossips.

cause: Gossips about the girl in the village.

Line 6,

The unfair mother keeping her in strict watch(fearful trap)

Effect: Girl being house arrested.

Now the finishing effect:

Line 7,

will the love with the chieftain die with the paleness of her body

Explanation: due to love sickness the women’s skin has become pale. Like the skin getting lighter day by day would her love also gets faded every day?

Line 8,

The birds by their force bend the branch and make the flowers fall down in the muddy backwaters

Explanation: Compare this to line 5 and 6. The villagers (birds) by their gossips(force) make mother house arrest the girl(bend the branch) and make the girl fall into love sickness(flowers falling down into the muddy back waters)

Now let me  assemble different parts of the puzzle in the right place:

The suffering of fishermen are eased by their catch(huge quantity of fish).

The stinking smell of the fishes are nullified by the fragrance of the punnai flowers.

The dirtiness of the horse washed clean by the waves of the sea.

All these three lines suggest that any suffering can be eased out by certain other actions.

So comes the last line,

Love with the Chieftain of the land abundant with sea shores.

So if the Chieftain becomes bold enough (to ask for marriage to her parents or to elope) and raise like a wave of the sea he could wash away the,

flowers from the muddy backwater(i.e put end to all gossips in the village)

and hence

the paleness(love sickness) of his lover.

By uttering this poem she urges the Thalaivan to come and meet her or to take a bold step in consideration with their future.

This poem has beautiful structure which flows naturally and at the same time conveying the inner tension and emotion without any hindrance. I hope by this step by step approach I have able to clearly make you readers understand the importance of each line in the beautifully structured poem.



Literary conventions of akam poetry by Kamil Zvelebil

Narrinai commentary by Narayanaswami iyer

Poems on Love and war – A.K.Ramanujan

Tamil Lexicon



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